Study results published by 20/20 GeneSystems show that its multibiomarker blood test may be able to identify non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) earlier and with better accuracy than CT scans. If the reliability of the test can be confirmed on larger numbers of patient samples, the company will seek to introduce what would be the first new blood screen for any cancer since the prostate-specific antigen test was introduced in the 1970s, say company officials. The study findings were published in July 14, 2006 issue of Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

20/20 obtained exclusive rights to the blood test from the University of Kentucky and is co-developing it with a research team from the institution led by Edward Hirschowitz, M.D., and Li Zhong, Ph.D., of the division of pulmonary and critical medicine. The goal is to develop a diagnostic that would help identify lung cancer at the earliest, most treatable stages.

Researchers used panels of antibodies generated by the body’s immune system in response to early-stage NSCLC. The studies found that the presence and amounts of these antibodies in the blood predicted NSCLC with about 85% accuracy. Based on the study, researchers estimated that lung cancer may be present three to five years before reaching the conventional size limits needed for diagnosis by current radiographic screening methods (0.5 mm). In this particular study, researchers used blood taken from patients several years before their tumors were picked up using CT scans.

“The data generated to date suggests that our panel delivers better combined sensitivity and specificity for detecting NSCLC than any other combination of biomarkers reported in the literature,” notes Dr. Zhong, lead author of the study.

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